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Coastal-GTOS (C-GTOS)
 Panel leader: Robert R. Christian

Why highlight observations of coastal ecosystems?

Coasts, bordering the world’s greatest water bodies, are among the most important areas in the world to humans, and one of the most sensitive to anthropogenic impact at local to global scales. There is a clear need for information on global and regional change in coastal areas. Collection of in situ and remote sensing data must be improved and associated data management, model production and communication infrastructure developed to provide free and timely information to developed and developing nations. Hence, the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) has developed a Coastal Panel (C-GTOS) in collaboration with other coastal programmes and international initiatives.

Development of a Coastal Observing System

Substantial progress has been made developing and implementing C-GTOS. The C-GTOS Strategic Design and Phase 1 Implementation Plan has been published. This is being followed by the initiation of a full Coastal Panel, endorsed by the GTOS Steering Committee at its January 2006 meeting. C-GTOS, the Coastal Global Ocean Observing System and other coastal programmes, such as LOICZ, cooperated in developing an Integrated Global Observing Strategy – Coastal Theme. More recently, through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, C-GTOS has been participating in the Coastal Zone Community of Practice.

Development is underway on the five priority products for the immediate implementation of C-GTOS. Here we highlight two of these products.

Informatics and ecosystem services in deltaic systems with respect to climate change and dam impact

A series of digital maps is being developed demonstrating informatics and spatial modelling methods for estimating ecological functions in deltas. Initial implementation includes the modelling and mapping of a limited group of deltas and building a consortium to promote data sharing, international cooperation and financing. John Kineman (University of Colorado) has led this work, initiating the World Deltas Network (WDN) and preliminary activities, working with George Hart and Jim Coleman (Louisiana State University) and the Global Land Cover Network (GLCN). See the WDN Web site

Achievements include:

1. The launch of the WDN website by Kineman , and the development of the World Deltas Database (WDD), designed by Hart, which incorporates data from Coleman, Brau, Hart and Hu.

2. An initial study of 12 deltas using geophysical analysis to produce delta extent maps (see WDN website).

3. A pilot study for the Nile Delta, Egypt, is underway, including mosaicking of satellite data from three decades of data collection (1980, 1990 and 2000). These datasets will be made available for download from the WDN website.

4. Preliminary analysis of ecosystem services and vulnerability in the Nile Delta is underway, using the Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) of FAO and UNEP.

5. Efforts are underway to broaden the information on deltas. The Deltas Research and Global Observation Network (DRAGON) is one important site for this information.

Management of coastal zone conservation and cultural sites

A sustained network of in situ monitoring sites is required to support regional and global coastal observing systems. C-GTOS will address this need through identification and support of relevant existing monitoring initiatives occurring at coastal sites with conservation or cultural value.

Activities include:

1. Publication of a framework paper on the development of sustainable network of coastal observation sites of conservation and cultural significance. Christian, R. R., and S. Mazzilli. 2007. Defining the coast and sentinel ecosystems for coastal observations of global change. Hydrobiologia 577: 55-70.

2. Preliminary identification of networks and location of potentially suitable individual sites. This has been done for the Mediterranean region in collaboration with MedWet, Lagunet and other national programmes for coastal lagoons.

3. Collaboration with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention to establish a Memorandum of Understanding for a type 2 partnership. The GTOS Secretariat held a side event on Building bridges between observing systems and international conventions in coastal areas at Ramsar COP 9.

Changes in night-time lights from 1992-93 to 2000 for Italy

SOURCE: Chris Elvidge of NOAA.

Cyan = background – no lights and offshore (land/sea mask applied).
Black = bright lights detected in both time periods (at or near saturation).
Red = Lights much brighter in 2000.
Yellow = New lights in 2000.
Light grey = Dim lighting detected in both time periods – little change in brightness.
Blue = Lights dimmer or missing in 2000 (relative to 1992-93).

C-GTOS Objectives

The Expert Panel also identified initial short-term objectives and the products needed to establish the monitoring process. An initial narrow range of discrete elements have been selected to structure early activities of C-GTOS, namely:

1. Develop an inventory of sites appropriate for observations and analyses of delivery of water, solids and nutrients to coastal waters.

2. Construct a functional typology of the coast and evaluate the distribution of functional units. This recognizes that different environmental issues may have unique zones of influence on observed responses.

3. Integrate and improve the World Resources Institute Earth Trends coastal habitat maps and link them to land use and land cover.

4. Determine and analyse the distribution of coastal population, urbanization and land use, and their effects in the coastal zone.

5. Determine and analyse the distribution of conservation and cultural sites in the coastal zone.

These short-term products are designed to provide clear evidence of the value of C-GTOS. Longer-term products will then be developed once a community of observing sites is established and users become more engaged.

Members of the C-GTOS Expert Panel

Robert E. BOWEN
David M. CLARK
Stephen John DE MORA
Michael K. ORBACH
Pierluigi VIAROLI
Helen YAP

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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   28 July 2008